Top level equipment for artisan beers


1Giuseppe Collesi led to a level of excellence a range of products that were born extending to beer his passion for quality Grappa he inherited from his father, owner of a farm holiday in the Marche region. Precisely when Giuseppe presented his grappa during an event in which a Belgian ambassador who was also experienced a master brewer participated, the idea of starting a production of artisan beer in Italy was suggested to him. The efforts he made in the domain of distillates had been noticed and he started a production that in Italy was still at an early stage of development. Collesi reminds: «The new millennium had just begun. I had barely heard of artisan beer and yet that proposal struck me immediately. I gathered further indications and we started with a first 10-hectolitre plant».

This intuition was really well-chosen, taking account of the results that have led him to expand his production a few years ago with a new 40-hectolitre brewhouse, completed with a very respectable wine cellar. Thanks to it, in 2015 ‘Collesi’ exceeded 11,000 hectolitres, with the aim of reaching 15,000 hectolitres by the end of this year. «The Italian microbreweries should aim at reaching at least 30,000 hectolitres in the medium term, to stay on the market and contain prices. Otherwise the operators will not be able to really withstand foreign competition, which already boasts far higher volumes».

3The machinery

The bottling line starts with a depalletizer that arranges bottles on a conveyor belt directed to the monobloc system by Cimec consisting of rinsing machine, isobaric filler, and capping machine, for which crown caps in aluminium whose dimension is 29 are used. These caps are provided with an internal ‘bidule’ realized by Clementi Rigamonti. Two labelling machines operate alternately, according to the necessary requirements, after beer has finished its period of maturation. One of the labelling machines is linear, realized by Enos (its speed is 1,000 bottles/hour), the other one is rotating (3000 bottles / hour) and is produced by Once.

Caps in heat-shrinkable plastic, provided by Enoplast, are applied to the bottles by the Enos machine that forms a monobloc with the linear labelling machine. The considerable weight of the bottles made by Saint Gobain is noteworthy. Their capacity affects the filling speed: 5,000 half litre pieces per hour (the empty bottle weighs 500 grams); 4,500 cl 33 bottles (empty bottle: g 400); and 3800 cl 75 bottles (g 720).

Natural carbon dioxide

A part of the production (30%) is packaged in non-returnable Polikeg drums, within which the beer referments, as it happens in bottle. The drums are guaranteed for an internal pressure of 10 bar, thus leaving a large margin of safety, if we think that the beer slightly exceeds 3 bars. Collesi observes: «The second fermentation produces natural carbon dioxide, which provides a longer shelf life to our beer. Thus, the beer is able to maintain its quality up to 24 months. In addition, if those who tap beer are true professionals and know how to act on the CO2 valve, the drum can be consumed even in 25 days, after opening it. On the other hand, with a pasteurized beer it would not be possible to exceed 4-5 days».

The packaging line of drums, a two-headed one, calibrated to fill up to 120 drums per hour, has been realized by Bra Company. Thanks to it, it has been possible to pass from 4,000 barrels produced in 2014 to 10,000 in 2015.

The brewhouse

Let us come back in the brewhouse, developed by Velo to meet the expectations expressed by the Belgian master brewer. The utmost potential it is possible to reach per year, providing it with another Whirlpool system, would reach hl 40-50,000, for 5% alcohol beer. However, as the experts know, the size of a brewery is not determined by its brewhouse only. In short, it is necessary to produce a certain amount of must, but then the proper wine cellar is needed, with its vats for fermentation and maturation. These supplies must go hand in hand, and here the storage capacity consists of 14 fermenters whose capacity is 20 hectolitres for each one, and in addition 10 more vats whose capacity is 80 hectolitres, with four more of equal volume that are arriving.

Barley, hops, and yeast

In terms of raw materials, Collesi has the advantage of the origins of his company, which has long been engaged in agriculture. As a matter of fact, 70% of the barley they use, two-row one, is grown on their land, while the remaining 30% consists of imported varieties. This detail allows reflecting on the possibility of producing a 100% Made in Italy beer. Collesi says: «I would like to get there, solving as soon as possible the main problem with which Italian producers have to deal with, namely the supply of hops, for which we must turn to foreign suppliers. They select it in Countries characterized by a longer tradition in the domain of brewery, and which have the appropriate environmental conditions, starting from climate. These Countries are the northern European nations. However, I believe that in Italy there are some areas where hop crops can develop very well. Hence my belief that it is possible to produce beer brewed with all domestic raw materials».

Giuseppe Collesi

Giuseppe Collesi

Lager beers? Better not

All the beers produced by Collesi are top-fermented and Belgian style ones. This choice is guided by Giuseppe’s taste and ideas. «I do not like lager beers. Of course, among the artisan beers, some of them are also fairly good, but in general terms I do not believe they can offer products that really deserve to be taken into account». This observation gives us a way to address the issue of the difference between artisan production and the ‘industrial’ one. Collesi defines its structure a microbrewery. But what can we tell, when the production that unequivocally leads to talk about industrial beer is exceeded? This is his answer: «First of all, I would clear away with the concept that craft beer is equivalent to a product realized with rudimentary means. They are distinguished by something very different, that is to say the production method».

Neither filtered, nor pasteurized beers

«On one hand, that proposed by industry, pasteurized beers are offered, filtered and with yeasts used to exhaustion, not with flowering hops, but in the form of extract and often employing barley for no more than 40% of production, while the remaining 60% is maize or rice, that is to say cheaper cereals, and in addition resorting to the addition of carbon dioxide in artificial manner; on the other hand, the artisan beer – as I understand it – uses 100% barley, possibly a portion of wheat for ‘Blanche’ special beers, hops not in the form of extract; neither filtration nor pasteurization are carried out and its effervescence derives from naturally developed carbon dioxide. If we limit ourselves to follow this production method, the numbers do not count any longer. I can produce either a thousand bottles or a million. This is demonstrated by the success of the American artisan beer, that is to say handmade beers, by means of plants that sometimes reach one million hectolitres. Basically when I talk about microbrewery I do it to distinguish myself from the Italian industry, whose members include producers who do not reach one million hectolitres, even if they do not comply with the criteria I have expressed about the artisan production».

What happens before bottling
Once they have reached the perfect point of ripeness, barleys grown in the Tenute Collesi farms and the imported part are processed in a local malt house. They are selected and cleaned; then they stay for three to four days in the steeping tanks, where they receive both water and oxygen necessary for germination. The steeping water, which is usually maintained at temperatures ranging between 12 and 15 ° C, is continuously changed. When the necessary moisture is achieved, the barley is put to germinate for about a week in special vats. Then the malt is dried and roasted. The malted barley is then finely ground, so acquiring the consistency of flour, and mixed with warm water in the boilers. Thus its temperature is raised to about 70/90 ° C. For Collesi beers this process takes about three hours, during which a first part of hops is added, which gives the characteristic bitter taste to beer and its unmistakable aroma. So the first stage of the brewing process is performed, the so-called ‘mashing’, during which the malt is transformed into must. This happens when the starch that is still present in the malt is transformed into a sugar, maltose. The must that is thus obtained is transferred from the boiler to the filtering vat, where it is separated from the insoluble residues of the mixture, and then taken back in the boilers for the cooking stage. The cooking time is about two hours, with the addition of the second part of the hops. This boiling stage, which is for both sterilization and concentration of the must, is carried out by steam. After the cooking stage, the must is freed from further impurities through a ‘Whirlpool’ filter and cooled through heat exchangers to the temperature of 20 ° C, ideal for high fermentation. At this point the must goes in fermenters, where yeast is added for the first fermentation. The yeasts transform the sugars and amino acids present in the must into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and aromatic substances. The maturing time is different for each type of beer: ‘Bionda Collesi’ lager beer has a maturation time of at least 25 days, while ‘Rossa’ red beer requires 35-40 days at a temperature of 0 ° C. The maturation is for saturating the beer with carbon dioxide, up to its clarification, namely to allow the deposit of yeast residues and proteins and, in general, for an improvement of the taste, so that all of the beer ingredients are more fully harmonized. At the end of the process, the beer is centrifuged to remove the residues of opacity and then carried again in a tank, where both yeast and sugar are added for the next step in the drums stowed in the fermentation room at a controlled temperature of 25 ° C for about 10 days. During this stage both sugar and yeast allow the second fermentation to start.


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